Special Report

The 10 States With the Worst Quality of Life

7. South Carolina
> Employment rate: 62.5% (4th lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $25,055 (6th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 6.5 per 100,000 (6th highest)
> Voter turnout: 64.7% (18th highest)

South Carolina residents earned considerably less than other Americans. Households had $25,055 in disposable income per capita last year, among the lowest income levels nationwide. It also tends to be more difficult to find a job in the state than elsewhere in the nation, as South Carolina was one of only a few states with an unemployment rate greater than 9% last year. And like all of the states with the worst quality of life, South Carolina residents were far more likely to live in poverty than most Americans. While 15.8% of Americans lived in poverty in 2013, 18.6% did so in South Carolina, more than in all but a handful of other states.

6. Oklahoma
> Employment rate: 67.9% (22nd lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $27,384 (19th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 5.5 per 100,000 (14th highest)
> Voter turnout: 62.4% (3rd lowest)

While some of the states with the worst quality of life reported exceptionally high voter turnout rates, Oklahoma residents were among the nation’s least likely to make it to the ballot box. Less than 53% of eligible Oklahomans voted last year, worse than in all but two other states. This also placed Oklahoma in the bottom 16% of OECD regions for civic engagement. It may be difficult for many residents to stay engaged with politics, as high-speed Internet access was somewhat of a luxury in the state. Less than 60% of households had broadband Internet access as of last year, among the lowest rates in the country.

ALSO READ: America’s Richest (and Poorest) States

5. Tennessee
> Employment rate: 66.5% (17th lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $27,734 (20th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 5.9 per 100,000 (10th highest)
> Voter turnout: 55.7% (6th lowest)

With a voter turnout rate of just 55.7%, Tennessee had among the lowest levels of political engagement in the country. Like most other states with low voter turnout, less than 60% of Tennessee’s population had access to broadband Internet. Such poor access to services was common among the states with the worst quality of life. Also, just 85% of Tennessee workers had completed at least high school as of last year, worse than in many states. However, Tennessee has made substantial efforts to improve statewide education levels. Most notably, state officials recently approved an initiative to make all Tennessee community colleges tuition free, the only state in the U.S. to do so.

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